20 Over-the-Top Marriage Proposals

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man proposing in times square
Photo credit: Celeste Martearena/gettyimages

'WILL YOU MARRY ME?'

A wedding can be an expensive enterprise, starting with the proposal preceding it. In 2016, the wedding services industry was worth $72 billion in the United States alone, with a growing percentage of that going toward popping the question, sometimes with the help of high-end planning services. In this increasingly competitive aspect of courtship, these are the proposals that stand out as particularly excessive. If there's one thing to be learned, though, it's that a lavish proposal is no guarantee of a long marriage.

fire-retardant suit
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IN HOT PURSUIT

To make his 2009 Fourth of July proposal as memorable as possible, Todd Grannis enlisted the help of a friend who was a professional stuntman to turn him into a human firework. Wearing a fire-retardant suit and a cape doused with gasoline, Grannis was set aflame and launched himself off a 10-foot platform into a pool below. Emerging from the water, he got down on one knee and delivered his punny proposal: "Malissa, you make me hot. I want to get the point across that I'm on fire for you. Will you marry me?"

woman's hand holding giant diamond ring up to her lips
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KRIS HUMPHRIES & KIM KARDASHIAN

When NBA player Kris Humphries proposed to Kim Kardashian in 2011, he did it with rose petals, candles, and a 20.5-carat diamond ring valued at $2 million on an episode of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." The wedding itself cost a reported $10 million — an awful lot for a 72-day marriage that Humphries, aided by testimony from a producer of the reality show, later contended was a fraud.

at&t park in san francisco
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KANYE WEST & KIM KARDASHIAN

Kim Kardashian was the recipient of yet another extravagant proposal in 2013, when her current husband, rapper Kanye West, rented San Francisco's AT&T Park and invited some of the couple's closest friends and a 50-piece orchestra. As the stadium's jumbotron flashed "PLEEEASE MARRY MEEE!!!" West proposed by singing one of his guest verses from the 2009 Keri Hilson song "Knock You Down." Kardashian made her answer public by posting a photo of the $1.9 million engagement ring on Instagram with the caption, "YES!!!"

atlantis resort in dubai
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DENIED IN DUBAI

Malaysian billionaire financier Low Taek Jho, aka Jho Low, executed one of the world's most opulent proposal plans this year in a failed attempt to woo Taiwanese singer Elva Hsiao. Rumored to cost $1.3 million, the proposal took place on the private beach belonging to Dubai's costly Atlantis resort and involved candles arranged into a heart, a neon-lit sign suspended between two yachts, custom-made Swiss jewelry, and a dining area specially constructed by architectural firm Ali Bakhtiar designs. The singer was reportedly moved to tears but still declined the proposal, saying she saw Low as a "little brother."

woman excitedly playing video game
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CUSTOM VIDEO GAME

In 2015, Kentucky game developer Austin Piech asked girlfriend Lauren Woodrick to test a game he'd been developing titled "Lolo's Bizarre Adventure," which he'd spent about 100 hoursworking on. It was actually a game inspired by their relationship, with levels such as their first date at a local pizza parlor and road trip to Indiana. The game ended with a mariachi band playing the song "Nosotros," recalling how Piech's grandfather proposed to his grandmother more than 60 years ago. Unsurprisingly, Woodrick said yes.

helicopter over ocean
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MARRY ME, MARIAH

Actor/singer Nick Cannon proposed to singer Mariah Carey in 2008 with a $2.3 million, 17-carat diamond hidden inside a candy ring pop. Confusingly, Carey said her now-ex-husband "kidnapped" her for a helicopter ride a few days later and re-proposed. The cost of the two proposals likely still paled in comparison with the 35-carat diamond and platinum ring she got from billionaire James Packer in 2016. They broke off their engagement within a year, but Carey reportedly got to keep the multimillion-dollar ring.

zero gravity experience plane
Photo credit: Zero G N794AJ by Andrew W. Sieber (CC BY-NC)

IN ZERO GRAVITY

Alexander Loucopoulos proposed to his space enthusiast girlfriend Graciela Asturias aboard a flight arranged by Space Adventures of Virginia that featured brief periods of zero gravity. Loucopoulos told the Associated Press at the time he was nervous the ring would float away from them during the voyage on a Boeing 727, which cost $3,500 per person.

foam sculpture
Photo credit: MIT Foam Installation by Juhan Sonin (CC BY)

3D ART INSTALLATION

In 2007, Chicago designer George Aye planned his proposal to girlfriend Sara Cantor by creating a 3D model of the big question, "Will You Marry Me?" He built the piece in real life using metal rods and laser-cut foam shapes legible from only one vantage point. It was displayed at a Chicago gallery disguised under the name "My Early Muir Owl" (an anagram for "will you marry me") by artist Serge Gandaora ("George and Sara"). Cantor was stunned to realize the installation was actually made for her alone.

igloo in mountains
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SEAL & HEIDI KLUM

When singer Seal proposed to model Heidi Klum, he flew her by helicopter to a peak in the Canadian Rockies, where he'd had an igloo built and furnished with bedsheets, rose petals, candles, food, and champagne. On top of all that, he presented a yellow diamond engagement ring that cost $150,000. The couple divorced seven years later, in 2012.

couple sitting on couch with remote in hand facing tv about to turn it on
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A CROWDSOURCED COMMERCIAL

Marketer Rand Fishkin wanted to propose to his girlfriend in a Super Bowl commercial, so he started an online fund to raise the $2.5 million necessary to buy the ad space on CBS. After collecting $85,000 for his romantic cause, Fishkin settled for getting his proposal aired several days after the big game in 2007, during a commercial break for his now-wife Geraldine's favorite show, "Veronica Mars." That cost a mere $3,000.

stacked smartphones
Photo credit: Tereza Hanoldova/istockphoto

99 IPHONES

A pricey and heavily publicized but nonetheless failed proposal attempt occurred in Guangzhou, China, just before Nov. 11, 2014, known in China as National Singles' Day. A man spent an estimated $80,000, about double his salary, to propose within a heart made up of 99 iPhonessurrounded by friends and colleagues.

heart-shaped balloons floating with eiffel tower in the distance
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TOM CRUISE & KATIE HOLMES

After less than three months of dating and one infamous couch-jumping incident, Tom Cruise proposed to Katie Holmes in Paris at the top of the Eiffel Tower with a $250,000 engagement ring. He confirmed the news in a press event later that morning. The couple got divorced about six years later.

behind the camera at news station
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ENLISTING TOM CRUISE

That wasn't the only elaborate proposal involving Cruise. Two years prior, while filming "The Last Samurai," the actor appeared on Portuguese TV to ask a factory worker named Sonia for her hand in marriage on behalf of cameraman Joao Martins. In the clip shown on Portugal's RTP station later that day, Cruise said, "Sonia, you have to marry Joao. … He is crying behind the camera." She said yes.

rooftop garden in new york
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A ROOFTOP GARDEN

The Heart Bandits is a Los Angeles firm that helps clients plan the perfect proposal. Among its most elaborate was a New York event in a rooftop garden complete with 9-foot orchid arrangements, designer shoes, a string quartet, and a custom monogram of the couple's initials at the bottom of a pool. The total cost came to $52,000, the BBC reports.

singers and microphones
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CELEBRITY CAMEO AND 700 SINGERS

Another prominent high-end proposal-planning service is The One Romance, launched in London, which has served more than 2,000 couples since 2014. Its minimum budget is $1,248, and its most expensive proposal (as of last year) cost $624,000. That one involved a choir of 700 singers and a celebrity appearance.

rolls-royce parked on scenic street in paris
Photo credit: AdrianHancu/istockphoto

ROLLS-ROYCE AND SKYWRITING IN PARIS

ApoteoSurprise is a Paris-based proposal-planning company that tailors custom experiences to clients' preferences but also offers 30 prearranged proposal scenarios. The most expensive costs $21,183, for which the couple is chauffeured across Paris in a Rolls-Royce Corniche to enjoy a gourmet lunch overlooking the Seine valley, where they'll see four airplanes draw a heart across the sky.

empty times square
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SHUTTING DOWN TIMES SQUARE

"Million Dollar Listing New York" star Ryan Serhant made arrangements with the Times Square Alliance and the mayor's office to shut down New York's busiest thoroughfare for an entire hour in 2014 for his proposal to girlfriend Emilia Bechrakis. The presumably costly proposal was filmed for the next season of Serhant's show and posted on Instagram.

elizabeth taylor and richard burton kiss in wedding outfits in front of mirror
Photo credit: 15th March 1964 by Kristine (CC BY-NC)

RICHARD BURTON AND ELIZABETH TAYLOR

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor became smitten with each other on the set of the 1963 film Cleopatra, but their subsequent engagement was far less public. They managed to buy an opulent emerald and diamond engagement necklace with detachable pendant-brooch from Bulgari without alerting the press by entering and exiting the Via Condotti boutique via a secret door. The piece of jewelry later set a world auction record when it was sold at auction with Taylor's estate in 2011 for $6,578,500.

low-angle view from the theater stage to the seats
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STAGING A PLAY

For his proposal, Ukrainian tycoon Gennady Zaleskiy paid $20,000 to stage a live theater production of "The Romantics" with himself as the star. At a point in the play when his character would usually proclaim his love for the leading lady, Zaleskiy instead turned to the audience, where his soon-to-be fiancée sat, and declared, "No, the woman I love is called Victoria, and she is in the sixth row. Will you marry me, Victoria?"

young woman eating popcorn on edge of seat in movie theatre with surprised expression
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FAKE MOVIE TRAILER

Polish YouTube star Joe Penna, aka MysteryGuitarMan, proposed to his girlfriend in 2013 with a fake horror movie trailer cut together starring himself using dramatic music and scenes from movies such as "The Grey" and "The Bourne Ultimatum." His unsuspecting bride-to-be saw the trailer while at the theater with friends. When it ended, the lights came up and Penna appeared in the theater with flowers and a ring to pop the question.

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